Winter's price tag this year estimated at $50 billion

Feb. 15, 2014 at 11:09 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Harsh winter weather is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, with mounting losses due to slow retail sales, travel disruption and other factors, economists said.

The fallout of frigid temperatures in December and January includes jobs lost, flights canceled, slower retail sales and oil production curtailed, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

"Following a solid holiday sales season, it seems that many consumers decided to take a break from the stores and shopping malls this January in an attempt to avoid winter weather," National Retail Federation President Mathew Shay said this week.

A survey of economists indicated economic losses amount to an estimated at $47 billion, as the bitter grip of winter has set the gross domestic product back by 0.3 percentage points.

The losses include an estimated 32,000 jobs in December, 25,000 in January and 19,000 so far in February, the newspaper said.

"The January freeze and crippling storms gripping the eastern United States and upper Midwest are having significant impacts on normal life and commerce," said University of Maryland economics professor Peter Morici, who estimated losses from the most recent storm that battered the Northeast at $20 billion to $40 billion.

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